Leading By Example

A New Jersey cop responds to a citizen’s allegations about his First and Fourth Amendment rights being violated:

“I’ve made you objections (sic) about what’s going on at the shelter over there,” [an animal rights activist] told the cop. “My 1st and 4th Amendment rights were violated – my civil rights were violated…”
The Helmetta police officer replied, “Obama just decimated the freakin’ Constitution, so I don’t give a damn. If he doesn’t follow the Constitution, we don’t have to.”

Just a crabby cop having a bad day and picking a lame excuse?


But our founding fathers understood better than our generation does that freedom only survives when “the authorities” respect the idea. 

And to too many of them, it’s just not there.  Continue reading

The ACLU Gets One Right

The American Civil Liberties Union is a “civil liberties” group – defending the liberties that the political class east of the Hudson and West of the Sierra Madre value, first and foremost. 

Don’t get me wrong – in the great scheme of things, someone has to defend the First Amendment rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, or for artists to create statues of the Virgin Mary made of cow dung.  And it’s not going to be me – not beyond the intellectual plane with any great vigor, anyway. 

Of course, the ACLU has always believed the Second Amendment was a collective right – incomprehensibly believing that while rights “of the People” in the First Amendment refer to individuals, in the Second they attach to the National Guard. 

But once in a while they get one right – as in the report earlier this week on the excessive militarization of the Police.

A Libertarian Is A Conservative Who’s Been Audited

Minnesota’s property forfeiture laws – which allowed law enforcement to confiscate property they believed was involved in crimes even before anyone was convicted – started out under the Carlson Administration – during America’s last major round of drug hysteria, in the early-mid ’90s, when the national murder rate spiked over the crack trade and Minnesota was reeling from the early-decade carnage in Minneapolis where, driven by gangs, the murder rate briefly spiked to some fairly astronomical levels.

If the police grab your property – car, house, whatever – you have to file suit to get it back, proving that your property didn’t in fact commit a crime or some such other legalistic buncombe.

And for all of Jesse Ventura’s libertarian palaver, his administration never addressed the issue.  And if anyone pulled Jesse Ventura’s strings, it was Dean Barkley, moderate-DFLer turned “Independence Party” guru and Jesse Ventura’s main advisor and for two  months, US Senator after Paul Wellstone died (and Ventura passive-aggressively refused to appoint election winner Norm Coleman to fill the period between the election and the swearing-in).

So maybe events have conspired to create another small-l libertarian?

Barkley’s ordeal started in April, he told me. He had lent the vehicle for a day to a relative to haul some tires. That relative was driving the GMC SUV when he got pulled over on Interstate 394, and Golden Valley police charged him with DWI and drug possession. They also seized the vehicle.

When Barkley went down to police headquarters, he was informed that they intended to keep the vehicle permanently under forfeiture laws. Barkley, who’s an attorney, was appalled.

Barkley has one distinct advantage: lawyer friends who will take his case on pro bono. Normally, it would cost about $5,000 to hire a lawyer to fight a forfeiture, making it pointless to do so if your property is worth less than that.

One of his attorneys, Philip Villaume, said the Golden Valley police have not violated any policies by refusing to give up the car so far, but he said he expects that as an innocent owner, Barkley will win it back in court – eventually. How long will that take? About three months, he said.

What’s the old saying?  “A Republican is a Democrat that’s been mugged; a Libertarian is a Republican who’s been audited”?

Barkley said he did not think much about forfeiture law in his political days, but he’s thinking about it now. “It goes against every constitutional concept that I studied in law school. If somebody is guilty of something, fine. This way they presume you’re guilty… I think it’s screwy. I think it’s completely backwards.”

Yes, it certainly is.

Success Breeds Success

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A buddy writes, regarding citizen journalist Andrew Henderson’s acquittal:

So one year and thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees later, he is acquitted of all charges. But where is the apology, the admission of wrong doing by the cops? Or the assessment of defense costs and fees?

Here is a little excerpt that perfectly, although I’m sure accidentally, portrays the abuse of process and authority of this whole thing:

Deputy Jacqueline Muellner, now retired, told the court that she confiscated the camera, stored it in her squad overnight and then in her work mailbox in an unsecure location for a day or two instead of the secure property locker.

Norgaard and Muellner said they were concerned about the patient’s privacy because it was a medical call.

They were so concerned about the patient’s privacy that she stole the camera and arrested the citizen, but then left the camera in sundry unsecured locations over the coming days while she worried about the invasion of privacy that the footage on the camera contained, and later discovered that the footage was somehow magically wiped. I’m not surprised it took the jury less than an hour to vindicate Henderson, her story has no credibility at all.

The larger issue is what to do about a law enforcement culture that sees itself as above the law. The officer violated Henderson’s First Amendment rights, using her authority as a government agent, then destroyed the evidence against her. What is it about Minnesota’s union-DFL-Big-Brother government that made her think she could get away with that?

Joe Doakes

The fact that they always do get away with it?

“…Nothing To Fear”


At our best, we are the party of individual rights, liberty, and limited government.

At our best, we are the party that actually believes in the original intent of the United States Constitution – including all ten amendments of the US Constitution.

At our best.

But the GOP isn’t always at “its best” – or, perhaps more accurately, politicians end up making compromises.

We had both on display this past week at the Capitol.

Senator Branden Peterson, Roger Chamberlain and Sean Nienow – three solid conservatives – co-authored Senate File 2466 with DFLers Bobby Joe Champion and Scott Dibble.  The bill, if passed into law, would require law enforcement to have probable cause and a search warrant to locate and track peoples’ cell phones via GPS. 

This is in line with the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution – which says we have an inalienable right, endowed us by our creators, to safety and security in our homes, papers and possessions, and that the burden is on the government to prove via due process that it has a compelling legal reason to need to do things like track our whereabouts.

And in a rare display of near-unanimity – and a rarer-still case of a useful bit of bipartisanship – the Senate voted for the bill 56-1 (see page 8233) – a vote that put Lyndon Carlson side by side with Roger Chamberlain, and Dave Osmek with Sandy Pappas, politically as well as alphabetically.  The lions laid down with the sheep.

All but one.

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, GOP from Alexandria, was the sole vote against the bill (see page 8232).


He’s been quoted saying “If you’re following the law, you have nothing to fear.”   The quote – assuming it’s accurate and in-context – is an unfortunate one; in all the millions of pages of state and federal laws and regulations that exist, surely everyone is a criminal in one way or another these days.  And even if that’s not the case?  That’s just not the attitude a government that governs a free association of equals should ever view law enforcement.

I emailed Senator Ingebrigtsen for his side of the story.  He responded very promptly, and I’ll carry his response in full:

There were already search warrants in place for this Law Enforcement function. This basically didn’t change much at all. Also this has nothing to do with pbone conversations between anybody. It is technology that aids the cops in locating a person registered to a specific phone. Again, no wireless tapping for voice. It would be used to locate abducted people, known offenders who are stupid enough to keep their cell phones on them after committing a serious crime. In defence of the bill, it does allow emergency personel to use if it’s determined a medical emergency or for lost kids.

So my vote was to not deter the possibility of other LE agency from wanting to obtain this very, what could be life or death, tool.

Again, LE has always dealt with evidence and how it is obtained with the search warrant process. Without this, they don’t have a case

I appreciate the response, and the answer.  He’s right about a couple of points; it doesn’t cover tapping phone conversations (as some assert), and warrants already cover most telecommunications, officially.

I disagree with it, of course; while as Ingebrigtsen notes the law already calls for search warrants to tap phone calls (and their attendant GPS data), there are loopholes; SF2466 closes them.  And as the NSA scandal shows us, the “official” legal stance doesn’t always govern how government actually handles its powers.  That overreach was what this bill was intended to forfend, at the state level. 

As far as finding children goes?   I’m not sure if the law allows parents to consent to searches for their childrens’ phones without need for a warrant – perhaps my lawyer readers can sound off about that – but that would certainly be a statute most could support while still defending our Fourth Amendment rights.   (And I can’t imagine a judge hedging on signing a search warrant for a missing child if a parent or guardian couldn’t be reached in an emergency). 

So I understand and respect Senator Ingebrigtsen’s reasoning – but disagree with it strongly.  And I’m happy that the GOP was able to lead this bipartisan effort that, in a dismal era for civil liberty, struck a tiny blow for the good guys.

That’d be “all of us citizens”.

Oceania Has Never Bullied Eastasia, Winston

The bill that the Metrocrats chose to call the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” passed the Senate. 

Let’s look at what’s in a name.  Because the name “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” is intensely misleading – almost to a geometric fault.

There are so many names for this bill that are more appropriate:

The Redundant Feel-Good Act:  Every school district already has a bullying policy.  It’s the law. 

The PC Payoff Act:  This bill – probably soon to be a law – is a chit being paid back to the DFL’s supporters by the party currently in power, creating not only a protected class of students, but a super-di-duper protected class. 

The Full Employment For Bureaucrats Act:  This bill – which creates a huge unfunded mandate on top of all the others foisted on our school systems, to the point where many districts are nothing but mandate delivery systems with occasional spurts of “education” – will create a whole new class of administrators.  And they’ll belong to unions, who donate their dues money to the DFL. 

The Full Employment For Trial Lawyers Act:  The bill makes the entire process of dealing with “bullying” even more legalistic than it already is.  Legalistic means “designed to be controlled, and especially litigated (at an exquisitely expensive hourly rate) by lawyers”. 

The Type-Cast Your Child For Life Act:  Everything related to everything that can be defined as “bullying”, no matter how torturously, will become part of a child’s permanent academic record.  Which will affect childrens’ future chances at higher education, jobs, the military, jobs requiring security clearances and the like, long after the child has grown out of whatever phase they were in when they were bullies (and that’s assume they were rightly and justly accused of “bullying”, since the bill is also…)

“Stasi Had The Right Idea!” Act:   Anonymous informants?  Giving those who accuse others of bullying complete immunity from consequences if it turns out that the accusations were fabricated? 

The “Further Proof That North Dakotans Are Smarter Than Minnesotans” Act:  Other states – including our grown-up neighbor, my home state of North Dakota – address bullying by addressing bullying, passing laws that address actual behavior rather than creating the infrastructure for a network of secret denunciations and…

The Ideology Police Act:  …making all beliefs that don’t toe the PC line, especially personal religious beliefs, however manifested or stated, a form of behavior that needs to be watched and suppressed, overtly or subtly, “for the good of the children”.       

The “Let’s Have More Bullying, Not Less!” Act:  Bullying tends to go up, rather than down, in places with bullying bills.   

The Metrocrat Power Grab Of 2014 Act:  The bill – which does nothing to address bullying of children that isn’t already covered by existing policies – does coalesce more power to indoctrinate, to punish dissent from the state-sanctioned social views, and to extort more from the taxpayer in the bargain.  And it does it during the last session during which the DFL is guaranteed absolute power.                 

Could someone in the legislature please see to this?

Kill The Bill

John Cornyn is right; Chuckles Schumer’s proposed “Media Shield” law creates two medias – a government-sanctioned media (which will, by necessity, have to dever to government to retain its favored status), and the rest of us:

“This is a bad idea and one whose time has not come,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate minority whip, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview. “Believe me, we will not be rolled over.”…Schumer’s proposal would exempt a “covered journalist” from subpoenas and other legal requirements to expose their confidential sources in leak investigations and other areas. Other lawmakers have proposed similar ideas in the past, but the effort gained new momentum after a series of revelations about controversial tactics the Justice Department was using to target journalists.

I’m not the only one who notes the irony – liberals like the media and Diane Feinstein are fine with the rabble being spied on – but they value their privacy.

(If we had a media that was a genuine antagonist and check on government, it’s still be a stupid but forgiveable bill.  But we don’t, and we haven’t in decades). 

This bill needs to die and be buried in a forgotten unmarked grave.

All Those “Jazzy Terms”

In Minnesota, if you are accused of a drug-related crime but not convicted, you can lose any property that the police and prosecutors say was used for the crime.

Seems prone to abuse to you?

It does to a lot of people.  There’s a bill to try to fix that in the Legislature – to require convictions before forfeiting property.

It’s getting flak from “Law Enforcement” and “Prosecutors”.

Guess why (emphasis added)?

Backers say the state’s civil forfeiture laws are long overdue for a little due process. The laws have become a growing source of cash for law enforcement agencies and were famously abused by the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force, which paid out $840,000 in settlements to ­victims who had their property illegally seized.

I suspect if you asked a whooooole lot of people on the street what the standard was, they’d say “conviction”.  They’d be wrong.

Under current law, police or sheriffs can keep property, vehicles and cash seized in drug cases or drive-by shootings — regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. If a suspect is found not guilty, they can still lose their property in civil court unless they can prove it was not involved in a crime. The bill would require prosecutors to return the property if there is no criminal conviction associated with the seizure.

And when I explain this to people who don’t follow these sorts of things, they’re non-plussed.  Then, frequently, upset; you’re not actually “innocent until proven guilty”:

 You have a kid who starts dealing a little weed?  And he gets on the County Attorney’s radar to the point where the prosecutor decides to try to squeeze him and those close to him to get to someone else?

Adios, property.

But it’s for the children.  Er, I mean, for law enforcement!

Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute for Justice’s ­Minnesota chapter, said that between 2003 and 2010, law enforcement agencies supplemented their budgets with $30 million gained through forfeitures. That, McGrath said, represents a 75 percent increase despite a small drop in the crime rate. The bill has received broad bipartisan support.

And who opposes the bill?

[County Attorneys Association] Executive Director John Kingrey said his organization supports fairness and transparency in the state’s forfeiture laws, but that the bill is ripe for abuse.

“Drug dealers are smart people,” Kingrey said. “One of the challenges we have is we walk in the door with cocaine and $10,000 sitting on the table, with five guys saying ‘That’s not mine.’ Four of them get convicted, and the fifth guy says ‘That money was mine, I wasn’t convicted, give me the dough.’ ”

Good heavens.  That might require the county attorneys to do their jobs.

I’m going to emphasize this next bit:

It’s not just money, Kingrey said. Acquittals could also put guns back on the street.

Does anyone need to have this translated?  “Being found not guilty of a crime means people might get their property back?”

Anyway – they’re all lawyers, so the truth will be found under many interlocking layers of bullshit.  And here it is:

“Conviction is a very jazzy term, but it’s more nuanced,” Kingrey said.

“Conviction” may be jazzy.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is an AC/DC riff, plain and loud and unadorned and unmistakeable.  No conviction, no forfeiture.

Cut the weasel words, County Attorneys.  You’re running a licence to print money, and you don’t want the peasants to mess with a good thing.


I’ve said it for nigh-on 20 years, now; gun control is the class war the Left’s been barbering about for the past century.  And they are the patricians.

And the plebeians are winning. 

Glenn Reynolds notes something I’ve been talking about for the past half-decade; the legal, social and moral landscape of the gun question and the Second Amendment has inverted completely over the past 25 years:

Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights. America has more guns in private hands than ever before, even as crime rates fall, and, after a half-century or so of anti-gun hysteria, the nation seems to be reverting to its generally gun-friendly traditions.

This is a state of affairs that seemed almost inconceivable a mere two decades ago, and therein lies a reminder: It often seems as if the deck is stacked, and change is inconceivable. Twenty years ago, the prospect of this kind of expansion in constitutional freedom seemed very dim. But in America, change, when it comes, can be sudden and dramatic — even when, as here, the general current of punditry and political opinion seems set in stone. Keep that in mind, as you contemplate other political issues.

And there’s an important lesson there; while the Second Amendment is in the ascendant, it’ll only stay there with constant vigilance and effort – and in the meantime, we have many other civil liberties that’ve been serving as bureaucratic playgrounds for decades now; the Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments in particular are in about the same state today as the Second was thirty years ago.

Expanding The American Gulag

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is asking for DUI checkpoints in Minnesota:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving gave Minnesota low marks in its new state-by-state evaluation of DWI laws.

To be fair and accurate, MADD will dock points from any state that doesn’t allow law enforcement to perform random no-knock breathalyzer and urinalysis raids in the middle of the night.

No, almost:

MADD, in particular, calls upon state lawmakers to legalize sobriety checkpoints, writing that they “will give law enforcement the tools needed to cut drunk driving fatalities.” (The organization also recommends requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DWI offenders.)

Minnesota is currently one of just 12 states that doesn’t allow law enforcement to conduct sobriety checkpoints.

Clearly there’s a drunk driving crisis in Minnesota.

Well, no.  There’s not.  Minnesota is well below the national average in the percentage of automobile deaths related to alcohol and alcohol impairment.

And despite MADD’s blandishments, there’s considerable evidence that random checkpoints aren’t especially effective at getting drunk drivers off the road, much less saving lives, as compared to the perfectly effective roving patrols.

Alcohol-related deaths on the road are down nearly 50% in the past 25 years.

But if MADD thinks shoving the police state’s foot in the door up to the knee by gutting the Fourth Amendment even more is the answer, maybe it’s time for America’s voters to send them off to political happy hour.

Signs We’ve Turned The Corner To Madness

Last years, I noted a number of episodes of police seemingly blazing away without much regard to actual “public safety”; a shooting incident at the Empire State building in New York City where eight of the shooting victims were innocent bystanders shot by cops responding to the shooter (who was killed after being hit several times)…

…and, most ominously, the erroneous shooting of two women during the manhunt for rogue cop Christopher Dorner.  Cops fired 103 shots at the women, who were riding in a pickup truck that didn’t resemble Dorner’s, had no weapons, and were delivering newspapers.

Both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

The scary part?

It is also worth noting that, if this were Dorner in the truck, it would have been highly questionable as a justified shooting since no weapon was present or shown to the officers. None of that seems to matter. It leaves a chilling message that police are at greater liberty to use lethal force (without positive identification or appearance of a weapon) when searching for a cop killer.

Criminals, indeed, have better protections against police error and overreach than law-abiding citizens do.


In the interest of helping this incident go viral, I’m re-posting this video.

It’s Richland County (South Carolina) Deputy Paul Allen Derrick, who – rejected by 23 year old Brittany Ball, described as a Marine – allegedly became enraged, went to his car, got his handcuffs and pistol, and proceeded to play cop with Ms. Ball.

Fortunately, the video was rolling:

I worked in bars for way too long, and this is ugly, depraved stuff even by my standards. Derrick tortures Ball, practically wrenching her arm out of its socket. He gropes her, too.

The good news, as it were? Sober on-duty cops were called, and they were able to put the law above the Thin Blue Line, and they arrested Derrick. He’s charged with assault and battery.

The bad news? It took a week for the sheriff to suspend Derrick.

Continue reading

Signs You Have Too Many Federal Employees

 When jobs that used to be done by a couple of guys in a government car are now done by SWAT teams in full battle rattle:

Miners in Chicken were surprised during late August by groups comprising four to eight armed EPA agents carrying Glock .40 S&W cal side arms in full battle rattle with signs in big letters loudly proclaiming POLICE who stormed into several mines near Chicken in a full out assault to . . . take water samples. The EPA gestapo, and that’s all one can term such a heavy handed goon squad were there to take water samples to see if the miners were in compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Something in past years that was done by one or two unarmed State of Alaska DEC personnel along with a representative of the EPA without rancor.

If the situation were not so serious, and the threat to the miners so real, this could almost be laughed off as a joke. However, armed goons with .40 cal Glocks in full battle rattle are not a joke. This event marks a new level of federal oversight on Alaska’s federal lands. Lands which the management of were supposed to be the responsibility of the State of Alaska under the terms of Alaska’s Statehood Compact. This event is an outrage and sets an extremely dangerous precedent for future regulation activities by the various federal agencies in Alaska.

It’s not just a “too many feds” issue. 

The bigger problem is that it’s also a “they think that they need to act, literally, like stormtroopers to carry out their daily business – or at least they want you to think so”.

Whilst Shopping

SCENE:  MITCH Berg is shopping at an electronics store.  Avery LIBRELLE runs into him in the aisle. 

MITCH:  So – your president is kinda going nuts, here, siccing government agencies on private citizens and dissident groups. 

LIBRELLE:  Ha ha, Merg.  All of this surveillance started under Chimpy McBushitler!  If you supported it then, you have to support it now!

MITCH:  For starters, Obama’s ramped it up to a new level; I’ve seen no evidence that Bush took the domestic surveillance to anything like the level that Obama has. 

LIBRELLE:  So there’s an amount of domestic surveillance you deem acceptable?

MITCH:  Sure – with a warrant, and observing the due process of law that’s supposed to be a Fourth Amendment right. 

LIBRELLE: Hah!  So you’re a Fourther.

MITCH:  I suppose you could say that.  Weren’t you a Fourther when Bush was President?

LIBRELLE: That was different.

MITCH:  Ah.  OK.  Secondly, I didn’t support it back then.

LIBRELLE:  You didn’t stop it!

MITCH:  How would I stop government surveillance?

LIBRELLE:  By blowing the whistle.

MITCH:  I don’t work anywhere near the field.

LIBRELLE: What is this “Work” you keep talking about?

MITCH: Fair enough.  Thirdly;  you complained about government surveillance under Bush…

LIBRELLE:  Hissssssssss…

MITCH:  …but Bush did little more than expand on policies that Bill Clinton…

LIBRELLE: Yaaaaaay!

MITCH: …initiated with his 1994 Crime Bill and 1996 Counterterrorism act, which greatly expanded the Fed’s wiretapping and domestic surveillance rights.  I mean, do you remember “Echelon?”

LIBRELLE:  The thing that had all you paranoid Faux-News-watching Alex-Jones-listening Bristol-Palin-is-Trig’s-Mom-believing wingnuts pooping in your pants back in the nineties?

MITCH:  Right.  The government’s purported effort to create broad-based systematic eavesdropping on domestic telephone and online communications. 


MITCH:  So let me be clear here; you supported Clinton’s domestic wiretapping and surveillance efforts?

LIBRELLE:   Of course.  There were Right-Wing militias roaming the countryside blowing up federal buildings and churches and kidnapping Cuban kids. 

MITCH:  Right.  But under Bush…

LIBRELLE: …it was oppression of domestic dissent!

MITCH:  …while under Obama…

LIBRELLE:  …he’s got a war on terror on two fronts – the Middle East and here at home!    And if you oppose him, you support putting bombs in the hands of right-wingers like the Tsarnaev brothers!

MITCH:  Um…gotcha.  What’s in the bag?

LIBRELLE:   All my electronics.  I’m having the service department wrap them in tinfoil.